Thursday, July 27, 2006

Leaving On A Jetplane...

I will leave Kolkata in 2 days now. University beckons. I shall leave by the Saturday morning flight to Bangalore, then on by bus to Manipal.

The last week has been spent in frantically meeting friends. Time has suddenly past by very quickly. It seems just a while back when I knew had 2 weeks in hand. I was calm and collected about the whole deal of going. And then suddenly, here I am with two days. Meeting old friends and new, at different CCDs everyday, bidding goodbyes as nonchalantly and stoically as possible.

Its strange how each last meeting with different sets of friends has been uncannily similar in several aspects. We meet, and some one or the other is always late - once it was me, other times its been the other party. You talk over coffee about utter nonsense. Then its time to leave. Goodbyes are said a little too quickly, and you push off in your direction.

Its only after I move away that I become aware of the parting - that I shan't be meeting that person for a long time now. It makes the return journey very grave. Solemn. I'm morose, so to speak. Head bowed down slightly, I sit crumpled in my shuttle. That's not just because I'm in an off mood. Three others - blessed with supernatural powers of perspiration - sit in with me, spreading noxious fumes and consuming as much seat space as they can scrounge.

I transcend up, up and away from my physical discomfort. My mind involuntarily reflects, on my friends. It goes back to first encounters, meetings since, the phone conversations about absolutely nothing at all, the rendezvous that just ended. A drowsy numbness pains my sense... I permit myself a bodyshake, however much I can manage in my crumpled existence (a co-cheapskate passenger on one side, and the door-handle poking my thighs at the other side) . The odours of my fellow passengers, blending together, combine to make a potent camphor-substitute, bringing me back to life. I grin to myself, the cocky self assurance (that I'm going to be back in circulation here every now and then) comes surging and I feel the bitter taste of caffiene in my mouth, a last reminder of time spent with friends.

I will be gone in two days. Out of my home, out of my city, away from Gautam's Coffee, away from the escalators at Forum, the samosas at Tiwari's, Durga Pujo celebrations, the stone steps of my school building - away from it all.

All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go...Damn. There's no one's door to stand outside, when the dawn is breaking in early morn, or a yawning Kolkata taxi-driver waiting at the porch. Lets not even go towards the hugs and kisses due to me.

Goodbye, Kolkata. I shall miss my city. I dont know exactly how much, as yet. But I shall know that very soon too. Tra la.

Next post from Manipal. It shall come off the new keys of my new laptop, kept neatly on my new study table, in my new dorm my new home.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

I Get Knocked Down, But They Prop Me Up Again!

Phata poster*, nikla** hero***!

The ban has been lifted. My blog and I are free. [Well, things look okay from my ISP atleast.]

The Indian Government has released me, once intense scrutiny revealed that the only punching bag on this blog was in the title. And since punching bags do not come strictly under the head of Weapons of Mass Destruction, I dont constitute much of a threat to national security. QED. Practical and smart, thats our government. Doesn't take them too long to wake up.

Aaahh! Feels good to be up and about again.

*As in, the Government finally realized they were making a fool of themselves, so they sort of dropped the blanket ban by themselves. No real posters were torn in this tomfoolery by the Government.

**I was sleeping while it happened. So didnt exactly niklo from anywhere either.


Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Watcha Gonna Do Now, SIMI? You're Goin' Down!

SIMI activists, the alleged perpetrators behind the Mumbai 7/11 tragedy, like to blog. In their spare time, that is, when they are not making bombs to kill us all with. Now, the Government of India being as it is, cannot of course do a thing to catch them and spank them for their misdeeds. So, we're punishing them the next best way.

Its been decided by the people in power that the best way to get back at SIMI is to take away what they like - their blogging. Hence, a blanket ban has been draped over,, and, the most popular blogging sites in India. In your face, Students' Islamic Movement of India!

Now, the thing is this. Government officials maintain that its not a blanket ban, and not all blogs are under the ban order. Its true that we have banned several blogs under the said domain names. Not all. Just the ones that are dangerous. Blogs are a means by which terrorists exchange their vital information nowadays. Because mobile phones, emailing and chatting are all so passe you know - not the 'in' thing. Its a question of national security! In one stroke, we have hit SIMI where it hurts most - their...umm..desire for writing. No! I mean, the foundation of their operations...the base...blogging. We win! (in chorus) We win! We win! Yay!

Obviously, this has raised an outcry across the nation. Curtailing freedom of speech and what not. You can read about it here, here and here. I won't repeat their words.

Personally, I feel a quiet exhilaration. A sort of warmth glowing in my body. My head also feels a little light, now that I think about it. No no, not a fever. Really, its not that. Its just.....hmm...threat to national security. My blog too. Me. Threat to national security. I. Wow!

In my so far wasted existence, I've been many things - outstanding student, average student, backbencher, wimp, hero, amateur sportsman, maker of excellent chaats and the occasional Maggi. But never have I been a threat to national security. Threat to my best friend's birthday cake before he has even cut it - yes maybe I've been that. But national security? Definitely no.

This is an epoch in my life. I am born again - renewed, afresh, straight to 18 yrs of age of course, but you get the gist. When I walk down the building, roam the streets, eat puchka at the roadside, I do so with a quiet confidence. I look around me and I see ordinary harmless people going about their lives. I smirk at them. They don't know I'm a threat to them.

I glare at little kids playing around. And they glare back. Some of them come from behind and kick me. I dont say anything. I get back up, laugh lightly and walk on, forgiving their ignorance. They don't know how dangerous I really am.

Soon, the Indian Government will grow up. They will learn that perhaps the best way to curb terrorism is to catch the terrorists, rather than to take away their soft toys. They may also realize that there are other ways to communicate large amounts of information to a large number of people - things such as email and telephones come to mind. And the ban shall be lifted.

My blog shall be normally accessible again. I will be free to go. One with the rest again. But the memory will last. I won't forget. I will remind myself, in my dark moods of low self esteem, or when the neighborhood kids hit me from the back, damn them. I was once a threat. They had to chain me down. They had to restrain me. I was banned once.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Its Just Not In The Genes!

Or, for that matter, Jeans.

I had to do it again today. Against all my will, against all instinct, against all moral sense of outrage - I had to do it again today.

Shopping again!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Walk of Life, On The Treadmill

For an enthusiastic observer of human nature and eater of cakes like me, the gymnasium is a very useful place to be. There's one just next door to my house, so I go there quite regularly. And I always see all sorts of people - regulars, late comers, irregular-yet-oh-so-sincere types, 'freshers' and even the pumped up good for nothings who exist only to lower your morale. How is a gym a centre of observation you might ask me. Suppose you do.

When I walk into the gym, I look around me and I see all the different kinds of people there are in the world. No one type is left unrepresented. We are all different people from different backgrounds, with different problems in different lives, different professions, different workout schedules, different objectives and different differences. But what brings us together under the same roof, binds us together as one tribe, is our own hatred of and dissatisfaction with our shapes. We hate our paunch, we hate our spindly legs, we hate the flabby arms, and we hate the 40" inch waistlines. [Note: For the record, I have none of these. With the grace of my squash racquet, I'm quite alright physically. Just need some touching up. Hence.]

So what brought the wealthy businessman to the gym? What brought the "busy busy" housewife out from the kitchen? What made the teenage boy finally get off his PlayStation? What made the reed-thin girl get into her trackpants? The answer to these question is our look into human nature.

The rich, and well-fed businessman might offer several counterfeit causes for why he is here - the wife was nagging him, he always wanted to regain his former trim shape and now he had the time, his doctors were threatening to send him to a vet if he didnt. Tsk tsk...what are these if not excuses offered to push you off his case, and to help him laugh off his worries over himself.

Probe but a little into his life, and you see the truth he's hiding. The shame that reddens his face when he finds his laptop isnt ever on his lap, but more often on his belly. That is a reason. Ask him how long its been since he really saw his feet, and watch him lower his eyes abashed. That is another reason. Talk to him, and he will tell you how his 5 year old son bounced off his belly and fell down (injuring his elbow), when he tried to hug him yesterday. That is the reason.

He is here to regain his pride in himself, so that he can hug his son without endangering his life, so that he can shop at a regular mall instead of having a tailor design customized. May he succeed in his noble quest - the quest for size 36!

Why are so many hard-working housewives (or homemakers, if you must) seen at gyms nowadays? Are we finally breaking free of traditional bondages? Has it to do with upliftment of females in society? Is Bollywood a catalyst somehow? Really, what is it? This one took me a long time to figure out. Its a perplexing situation. I would not say that all the housewives are breaking away from traditions, that insist that they be one with their homes at all times or anything like that. Its not that.

A direct correlation can however be traced with Ekta Kapoor. More particularly, the rise of Ekta Kapoor as an assembly-line serial-maker (or killer you may say) can be correlated in a high and positive direction with the rise in number of housewives exercising at gyms per year. Look at the housewives on her shows. Each one of them in full bridal makeup at all times, and every single one with a perfect figure.

So, when the show takes a 20 year jump, they are seen on the screen as 50+ women who not only take good care of the resident Ba and the forever straying kids, but also seem to find time to do their daily push ups and stomach crunches. Won't that lead to extreme physical insecurity? The result is in front of us: Housewives are coming out in droves to the gyms, doing all the necessary exercises they can. They walk, they stretch, they lie down, they sit up again - the whole set. Then they rush back home to watch their idols take up arms to shoot their errant sons, back from mass-exile in Australia. Another bitter lesson learnt.

Just in case you don't believe me, here is some proof I'll toss in your face, dont mind. However much she works out, the exercising housewife will never take off her mangalsutra, because Tulsi never does. Or wear anything other than a salwar, because only the vamps dress like that. Never mind what common sense dictates. I keep expecting to see one of them in a sari one day, the pallu (like a hood) pulled up and all, a plate of puja ki samagri in her hands, keeping pace on the treadmill.

Similarly, the teenage boy and the 2-D girl have their own reasons to be at the gym. Everyone comes to the gym now. Its a bonhomous feeling inside - the mutual sharing of troubles, the silent confession of waist-sizes, the cheerful tales of not being able to reduce "this damned behind of mine". Its like the bar in Cheers - where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came.

Overweight ladies share their troubles about their hips, the male hippopotamuses (is it hippopotamii?) laze around in the backwaters discussing their backache - its a peaceful, tranquil atmosphere. These are the real gym-users I realize, as I look upon them. The ones who are here every day with renewed hope, with fresh enthusiasm. They are the people who have to fight their bodies every day in the belief that it will be worth it one day. They share excitedly the news when they lose a kilo (giving out of sweets is strictly forbidden), and offer a listening ear and gentle encouragement whenever someone seems to be losing the faith. They cheer each other on to do a couple more minutes on the stepper, and try another round of stomach crunches.

They might reach their goals or they may not. Most of them don't. But that's not the point. Thats not why they are really here. The point of life is not in reaching the destination, its the journey. Its the time spent with fellow travellers, enjoying the road, doing the push ups and learning the lessons that really makes our life.

Once in a while, someone with a chiselled physique and rippling muscles walks in. The ice-cold stares send him packing within a week. Peace is fragile. One cannot allow it to be shattered thus.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Doing The Zizou!

[Watch with sound on. Nice background music.]

The French make light of their man's antic. I urge you all to join in the spirit of The Zizou.

Head your boss,
Head your teacher,
Head your friend,
And head your foe.

Head your girl,
Head her boy,
Head the girl who wont let go.

Head the terrorists,
Head the Government,
Head every guy,
Whoever you meet.

Be a man,
Do the Zizou,
Heading takes the world to peace.


Disclaimer: I was drunk on lemonade, and under the influence of bread pakoras. Merci to all my readers.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

If I Can't Head In The Ball...Et Tu, Zizou?

This is of course the Great Zidane Headbutt (also called The French Are Sour Losers) - which sent ripples of shock and pain throughout the footballing world (not to mention Materazzi's chest).

Since Zidane has not opened his mouth to the media yet, we can only speculate as to what it was that the Italian said to provoke Zidane so highly. The man's last football match, the opportunity to win the Cup for his country a second time, the prospect of winning the Golden Boot - everything hanging in the balance, and he goes and scores on Materazzi's chest.

Obviously the press are leaping to enormous conclusions, ranging from Materazzi abusing Zidane's mother, right up to Zidane being called a terrorist (because of his being a Muslim and having Arab origins). But all this is a little too serious I say. And it does not still justify such a horrendous act from a player of Zizou's calibre and experience.

Promise to keep it to yourself and I'll let you in on it. The truth is far simpler and a lot more human, so to speak. If you watch Materazzi's lips very carefully, you can see that he mouths "Navratna tel, thanda thanda cool cool" in Italian. Nothing serious at all. Just a man with fertile soil recommending hair growth for the arid landscape that is Zizou's head.

Zizou didnt take it too well, as we can see. As a result, a red card brought his glittering career to an ignonimous end. Tsk tsk. Navratna tel would have helped. If only he had heeded the advice instead of heading the advisor.

I defend my Italy. Les Blues les f*** you!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Why We Dont Need "Superman Returns"

In the movie, Lois Lane, the reporter who needs f to spell catastrophe, writes an article titled "Why The World Does Not Need Superman" and wins the Pulitzer for it. The Pulitzer! For that! Her!

Seriously, I rest my case. I agree with her totally.

I had gone into the movie expecting something phenomenal. But it isnt even worth me taking the effort to write up a full-length post.

A Bollywoodian script, complete with father-son moments (next sequel - Superman & Son), evil villain making a mockery of his name and evilness by cracking jokes and landing up in embarrassing situations, a hero with expressions as profound and emotional as my left foot - the movie stinks.

No one is even around to answer my unanswered questions about the movie. So I raise my hands upto God, look up at my ceiling fan and ask -

How does Superman hear things from Earth from the vacuum of outer space?

How does his elaborate disguise, comprising geeky glasses (one pair), continue to hide his secret identity from the paranoid US media?

Is it necessary for all superheroes to be fashion disasters - Superman wears blue-red combo inside out, Spiderman does pretty much the same, Batman wears black cape and lycra stuff, and Wonderwoman wears hardly anything but that too strange (albeit exciting)?

I wont say anymore. It makes me unwell to speak of it. Watch it for yourself, because no amount of criticism, from anyone, could overcome the curiosity for a Superman movie after all these years. But afterwards, dont tell me I didnt warn you.